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FIBA Americas Women - Semi-Final match-ups revealed as First Round concludes in Xalapa
XALAPA (FIBA Americas Championship for Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - Unbeaten Brazil will go head-to-head with Cuba, whilst flawless Canada will tussle with Puerto Rico in the Semi-Finals of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women with one of the four nations destined to suffer the double agony of missing out on a medal and a coveted pass to the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.
The last day of the First Round in Xalapa on Wednesday saw undefeated Canada and Cuba fight it out for top spot in Group A and it was the Canadians who prevailed after shutting down their opponents 53-40 in an excellent defensive display.
Having given up 17 points in the first quarter to trail by eight, Canada belatedly found their defensive mojo and subsequently put up a wall to strangle the Cuban offense, giving up just 23 more points over the three remaining quarters.
Their offense also came alive and, having failed to break double-digits in the opening period, they amassed 23 points during the second quarter to take a slender 32-30 lead at the half, led by 11 points from Tamara Tatham.
Then the lockdown ensued as Canada held Cuba scoreless for nine minutes in the third quarter, giving up just one basket, to take complete control.
Tatham increased her haul to an impressive 17 points and just missed out on a fine double-double by one rebound, while the top scorer for Cuba was Oyanaisis Gelis with 11 points.
Brazil are the only other team yet to experience a loss on Mexican soil and it was the hosts they faced in their last contest of the First Round.
The Brazilians cruised to a resounding 97-45 success to go 4-0 for the competition, with Mexico having competed gallantly in the first two quarters, before their opponents shifted up a gear after the interval and left the home side trailing in their wake.
Already leading 48-32 when they stepped out for the third quarter, Brazil held Mexico to just 13 points over the last two quarters in a one-sided half.
Patricia Texeira had 15 points for her team, whilst Clarissa Dos Santos corralled 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Brisa Silva top scored for Mexico with 12 points.
Puerto Rico made it three wins in a row as they comfortably dispatched Dominican Republic 84-59, thanks mainly to 18 points and nine rebounds from Carla Cortijo and an absolutely sensational 33-12 first quarter.
The Dominicans were left reeling from the explosive start by Puerto Rico and couldn't recover - even if Andreina Paniagua tried to spark an unlikely comeback with 21 points.
Finally, it was fourth time lucky for Jamaica who signed off their tournament with an excellent 81-61 win against Venezuela as Simone Edwards led by example with 16 points.
Both teams looked to be evenly matched ahead of tip-off, but once Jamaica got their noses in front 20-12 after six points without reply, they built up a head of steam and always looked to be in the ascendency.
Even having to go back to the locker rooms didn't slow them down and they managed to continue their impressive work when they returned to the hardwood.
Increasing their lead, they made sure of their victory by accelerating away in the last ten minutes with a 20-11 final quarter.
Jamaica were superb on the glass and with Venezuela out-muscled, they couldn't keep pace - despite 15 points from Daniela Wallen.
For full and in-depth coverage of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women, go to the official website http://www.xalapa2013.com.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS